Today's announcement by the Chatham-Kent Children's Services that 17 jobs will be permanently eliminated will impact hardest on children and families who depend on child protection services, says the union that represents the workers.
"Children's Services is blaming these job losses on an operating deficit that has grown over the years and that the province demands it must eliminate now," said Candice Copeland, vice president of Local 148 of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU), which represents the affected workers. "If that's the case why should our clients, their families and our members pay such a steep price for the fact that management has been incapable of balancing its budgets?"
Copeland pointed out that caseloads at Chatham-Kent Children's Services have been steadily growing in recent years thanks, in large measure, to a weak local economy. Today's announcement that 17 positions will be permanently lost will only increase pressure on the already stretched services at this agency, asking workers to do more with less.
She added that a new funding model imposed by Queen's Park — that stipulates all Children's Aid societies in the province must operate from a set amount of funding regardless of caseloads — is the root cause of a weakening of services. The same funding model is to blame for the loss of 40 jobs at the London-Middlesex Children's Aid Society.
"This government must realize that the new funding model will destabilize the child protection system if it cannot take into account actual numbers of children and families being served. I have said this before, job losses could be avoided were the province to adopt an alternative "transitional funding" formula in place of the model put forward by the Liberal government that will directly impact the delivery of frontline services to children and families at Chatham Kent" said Warren (Smokey) Thomas, whose union represents the employees who have been told by management at the Chatham Kent Children's Services that they will be laid off starting November.
The elimination of jobs at CKCS will be staggered, starting next month and will continue into early 2014.
Denise Sands OPSEU Staff Representative Telephone: 519-671-7319
Candice Copeland, Vice President, OPSEU Local 148 Telephone: 519-809-0656